Exhibitions since 1986

Historical and cultural-historical exhibitions

In 1984 Prof. Dr. h.c. mult. Berthold Beitz, who served as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung until his death in 2013, founded the Kulturstiftung Ruhr (Ruhr Cultural Foundation). He appointed the long-time director of the Museum Folkwang in Essen, Prof. Dr. Paul Vogt, as Managing Director, a post he held until 2010.

For its major international exhibitions, the Kulturstiftung Ruhr selects art-historical and cultural-historical subjects.

2021 - Martin Kippenberger

16 February to 4 July 2021

Forgotten Interior Design Problems at Villa Hügel

The exhibition presented around 120 books and 140 posters by Martin Kippenberger from the period 1979 to 1997 at Villa Hügel. The title was borrowed from an exhibition of Kippenberger’s work that was shown at the Villa Merkel in Esslingen in 1996. For the duration of the exhibition, Kippenberger’s experimental, highly individual and sometimes provocative books contrast effectively with the classical book holdings of the Krupp family’s prestigious library. The presentation of the posters in the former living quarters on the first floor focuses primarily on the artist’s various forms of self-dramatisation, but also on his position in a network of artist friends. The books and posters presented come from the Museum Folkwang collection. This collection has been considerably expanded in recent years with the generous support of the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation.

The exhibition was shown until 16 May 2021 as part of the cooperative exhibition 2x KIPPENBERGER in collaboration with the Museum Folkwang. The Villa Hügel exhibition could be extended until 4 July 2021. The worldwide corona pandemic of 2020/21 entailed delayed exhibition openings and closings.

2018 - Josef Albers. Interaction

16 June to 7 October 2018


Josef Albers. Interaction

This retrospective traced Albers’s career from his time at the Bauhaus, to the highlights of his years in the United States, to his influential experiences in Mexico. His pictures were juxtaposed with religious imagery to demonstrate the spiritual dimension of his art. As an artist, teacher, and theorist, Albers influenced the Minimal and Conceptual Art that emerged in the United States in the 1960s, exemplified in the exhibition by works by Donald Judd, Ad Reinhardt, Robert Ryman and Agnes Martin.

2017 - Humboldt Says Thank You, Adenauer Denies

25 March to 8 October 2017

Humboldt Says Thank You, Adenauer Denies: Autograph Letters from the Krupp Historical Archive


‘He didn’t like me’ was Berthold Beitz’s memory of Konrad Adenauer, saying that the Chancellor questioned his ‘national reliability’. Adenauer, however, promptly and coolly denied this. By contrast, the six-page letter that Emperor Wilhelm II wrote in his own hand to the young heiress Bertha Krupp – only 16 at the time – was impulsive and emotional. And the world-famous researcher and explorer Alexander von Humboldt expressed his heartfelt thanks for the wishes sent on his 85th birthday.

For the first time, the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung presented important documents from the rich inventory of the Krupp Historical Archive in an exhibition.

2016 - Katharina Fritsch

13 May to 30 October 2016

Katharina Fritsch. Museum Folkwang – Villa Hügel


In a series of works produced between 2005 and 2007, the world-renowned artist Katharina Fritsch turned to the subject of her birthplace, Essen. These important works were presented in that city for the first time in 2016. Fritsch displayed her striking silkscreen prints together with sculptures at the Museum Folkwang, supplemented by an exhibition at the Villa Hügel, allowing the complete series of works to be shown in the city of Essen.

2014 - Economic! Miracle!

5. Juli bis 23. November 2014

Economic! Miracle! Krupp in Photographs 1949 – 1969


Photographs from the 1950s and 60s convey a sense of optimism and new beginnings – a new attitude toward life in post-war Germany. The ‘Krupp miracle’ took place between dismantling and rebuilding. In the early 1950s, the Krupp enterprise once again became a bellwether for German business. Spectacular products such as a steel diving vessel for deep-sea research and prominent guests like Thailand’s beautiful Queen Sirikit attracted attention and were covered in the international press. Soon, Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach and Berthold Beitz were also making headlines.

2013/14 - Heinrich Kley

20 April to 27 April 2014

Heinrich Kley


Heinrich Kley (1863–1945) was one of Germany’s most sought-after and renowned illustrators. On behalf of the Krupp AG, he turned his attention to the industrial sector beginning in 1901. Fascinated by the Krupp cast steel works in Essen, Kley drew sketch after sketch. His observations were precise, and he skilfully committed them to paper. Based on these studies, he created high-quality works of art that captured the dense atmosphere of the factory halls. As a result, the Krupp company repeatedly drew on his motifs for their publicity materials.

2011 - Krupp. Photographs from Two Centuries

18 June to 11 December 2011

Krupp. Photographs from Two Centuries


The Krupps preserved and passed down more photographs than perhaps any other business or industrialist family. The Krupp Historical Archive contains 2.5 million photographic images. In 2011, the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung presented for the first time key treasures from these unique holdings in the form of an exhibition. Nearly 400 photographs were arranged by theme in elaborate displays, filling fifteen rooms. The exhibition spanned a time period from the early days of photography to contemporary photographic art.

2008/09 - Villa Hügel Meets Folkwang

12 June 2008 to 1 November 2009

Villa Hügel Meets Folkwang


Tradition and avant-garde: In 2008 and 2009, visitors had the opportunity to view 120 major works from the collection of the Museum Folkwang on display for the first time at the Villa Hügel. The resulting contrast between an Imperial German ambience and avant-garde modernism tangibly brought home the struggle surrounding the introduction of modern art that was waged in Wilhelmine Germany around 1900 – more than a century after Karl Ernst Osthaus’s revolutionary art acquisitions. The exhibition ‘Villa Hügel Meets Folkwang’ allowed visitors to relive a key moment in German museum history and cultural politics.

2006 - Tibet

16 August to 26 November 2006

Tibet. Monastries open their Treasuries


Treasures of the East: It would be hard to imagine a far-off land that sparks the fantasies and longings of Westerners more than Tibet – the mysterious realm hidden behind the peaks of the Himalayas. Images of barren, endlessly vast landscapes or meditating monks; stories of thrilling expeditions; legends of divine rulers and the radiant power of Buddhist wisdom give wings to our imagination. But what do we really know about the region, its history, and its religion?

In 2006, the Kulturstiftung Ruhr brought visitors a little closer to this strange and fascinating culture, presenting religious artworks up to 1,500 years old from Tibetan monasteries, palaces, and museums.

2003 - Flemish Landscape

23 August to 30 November 2003

Flemish Landscape 1520-1700


In cooperation with the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the Kulturstiftung Ruhr assembled over 100 landscape paintings from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries into an exceptional exhibition presented in 2003 in the rooms of the Villa Hügel, at the centre of a vast park landscape: a most appropriate setting. The painters of this period enjoyed letting their gaze wander – from a wooded plateau, across a deep valley, out to the horizon, or to the sea glistening in the distance. One image might reveal the impenetrable underbrush of a forest, while another showed spray splashing against the bow of a vessel in distress.

2002 - Sense and Sensuality

1. September bis 8. Dezember 2002

Sense and Sensuality. Flemish Still Life 1550-1680


Opulently laid tables; scenes from the market, the hunt, or the kitchen; bouquets of flowers; nature studies and optical illusions: Flemish still life painting of the seventeenth century overflowed with detail and sought closeness to nature. The floral paintings of Jan Brueghel the Elder lacked only scent to make them as real as their natural models. The sight of a skinned calf’s head in a kitchen scene by Pieter Aertsen still causes some of today’s viewers to take a step back. The depiction of glass or metal, damp and shining surfaces, or the plump roundness of ripe grapes or juicy cherries is nearly perfect.

Over 100 still life paintings from the late sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries, assembled from the collections of international museums, showed visitors the evolution of the genre, culminating in the splendid displays of the High Baroque era.

1999 - Korea

5 June to 17 October 1999

Korea. The Ancient Kingdoms

Unlike its Chinese and Japanese counterparts, Korean high culture in all of its variety and autonomy is still largely unfamiliar in Europe. In recent decades, however, the country’s role as a leading international economic power in East Asia has awakened increasing interest in its cultural achievements – a motivation for the Kulturstiftung Ruhr to present Korea’s unique characteristics and significance to the European public. Numerous objects of exquisite quality loaned by Korean museums and private collectors – some of them regarded as ‘national treasures’ – gave visitors a fascinating glimpse of the essence of Korean art and culture.

1997 - Breughel-Brueghel

16 August to 16 November 1997

Breughel-Brueghel. Flemish Painting around 1600 – Tradition and Progress

The Kulturstiftung Ruhr’s exhibition ‘Breughel-Brueghel: Flemish Painting around 1600 ‒ Tradition and Progress’ presented a colourful kaleidoscope of Flemish painting between the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Thanks to recent research, it is now possible to distinguish this painting style more clearly from Dutch painting of the same era. With 145 paintings and 40 drawings, the exhibition offered visitors insights into an epoch of stunning variety, artistic richness and painterly quality.

1995 - Ancient China

2 June to 5 November 1995. Juni bis 5. November 1995

Ancient China. People and Gods in the Middle Kingdom

The English-language newspaper China Daily called the ‘Ancient China’ exhibition mounted by the Kulturstiftung Ruhr at the Villa Hügel in 1995 ‘the most important Chinese exhibition ever presented outside of China’. Approximately 200 objects from then-sensational new excavations were on view, most of which had never travelled outside of China. The exhibition thus provided a captivating glimpse of the emergence of ancient Chinese civilisation between 5000 BC and 220 AD based on artwork of the highest quality and historical significance.

1994 - Paris

11 June to 13 November 1994

Paris – Belle Époque. 1880 – 1914

A century celebrates its end, and in the midst of its splendour the signs of a new era are already unmistakeable. In the last decade of the twentieth century, an exhibition at the Villa Hügel was dedicated to the turn of the prior century in Paris. The Belle Époque was a multifaceted chapter in the history of the nineteenth century. Its image, glorified in memory as a fleeting, beautiful illusion, took on tangible characteristics in the 1994 exhibition, with the spotlight on Paris between 1880 and 1914 – a panorama of urbane existence full of buoyancy and tantalising variety that knew how to gloss over the serious side of life.

1992 - London

6 June to 8 November 1992

London: World City1800 – 1840

The centre of modern life, a crossroads between science, art and technology, between trade and traffic: In the early nineteenth century, the world city of London unfurled its enormous size with all its riches and power. The first exhibitions organised by the Kulturstiftung Ruhr centred on Dresden, Prague and St. Petersburg – three European metropolises whose names are associated even today with immortal highlights of a glorious courtly culture. By contrast, the 1992 show was dedicated to a world city of a different character and prestige. It documented the period between 1800 and 1840 ‒four crucial decades in London’s history as the first centre of European trade, finance, and business in the nascent Age of Industrialisation.

1990 - St. Petersburg 1800

9 June to 4 November 1990

St. Petersburg 1800. The Golden Age of Russian Tsardom

The 1990 exhibition ‘St. Petersburg 1800’ at the Villa Hügel reconstructed the wide-ranging artistic activity in the Russian Tsardom of that era. With over 500 masterpieces from the collections of the State Hermitage, the Kulturstiftung Ruhr’s exhibition mirrored this brilliant age in Russian art. When Peter the Great established a new city in the marshlands at the mouth of the Neva in 1703, developed it into a seaport, and moved his residence there, he simultaneously opened Russia up to Western Europe. His successors followed these pioneering beginnings, and St. Petersburg quickly grew to become a political and cultural metropolis.

1988 - Prague 1600

10 June to 30 October 1988

Prague 1600. Art and Culture at the Court of Rudolf II

‘Prague 1600’ was the second exhibition in the Kulturstiftung Ruhr’s series of ‘European Metropolises’ that had begun with ‘Baroque Dresden’ in 1986. For a period of five months, art treasures from the emperor’s court and examples of imperial sponsorship of the sciences moved in to the Villa Hügel and let visitors relive a high point in European cultural history through this reconstructed ensemble.

1986 - Baroque Dresden

8 June to 2 November 1986

Baroque Dresden. Art and Art Collections from the Time of August the Strong (1694-1733) and August III (1733-1763)

The first exhibition sponsored by the Kulturstiftung Ruhr was dedicated to the ‘European metropolis’ of Dresden. This was the starting point for a series of three exhibitions over the following years. A total of 600 masterpieces from the collections of Dresden museums exemplified the splendour of the Saxon royal residence city as an important eighteenth-century metropolis: a lively portrayal of this eventful era in European history.